Like all their Central Canada Hockey League rivals, the Rockland Nationals will commence their regular season in September.
But the Nationals’ brass is busier than all its league counterparts this off-season. That’s because officials from the Junior A franchise are preparing for the upcoming campaign in a new community.
The Nationals, under new ownership, are the Gloucester Rangers who have relocated to Rockland.
Team officials are excited the Nationals are starting to create a bit of a buzz in the community.
A three-day prospects camp held earlier this month attracted more than 90 players. Some Rockland residents were also keen to catch a glimpse of the squad that will be iced for the coming season.
“Some people wanted to know if they had to pay to watch (the camp),” said Dan Sauve, who took over the Rangers’ head coaching/GM duties in Gloucester last year and will continue his roles with the Nationals. “They were told it was free. They just wanted to come check out some hockey.”
The camp included players who were with the organization in Gloucester and will continue to suit up for the team in Rockland. Individuals hoping to crack the Nationals’ U-18 (Midget) squad were also at the camp.
And so too were a number of free agents who were hoping to play in the CCHL with Rockland during the 2017-18 season.
“The intensity was great,” Sauve said of the camp. “We were able to sign six bodies from that camp. We signed three defencemen and three forwards.”
Sauve believes his roster will include at least five or six players that were with the franchise in Gloucester this past season.
A handful of others are also eligible to return.
“There are some vets that haven’t made the team yet,” he said. “They’ve been told they have to come to camp in August and try to earn a spot.”
The Nationals’ main camp is scheduled to begin on Aug. 19.
Sauve said it’s also a bit early to determine where some other players will end up. A few individuals are hoping to suit up for Major Junior organizations but could end up with the Nationals if those plans don’t work out.
And there are some others with Major Junior experience looking to move down a level and possibly play for the Rockland team.
“We’re waiting to see how that plays out,” Sauve said.
Besides trying to determine which players will be donning Nationals’ jerseys this coming season, team officials are also attempting to find some of those out-of-town individuals a place to live. The club is hoping to find between eight to 10 billets.
“We’re looking for families in and around the Rockland area,” he said.
Nationals’ officials are also doing their best to let members of the public know there will be a Junior A squad in their community. To that end they attended a recent minor hockey meeting in Rockland.
“We’re trying to get the word out there,” Sauve said.Back to Top
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